There’s a familiar face at Biola University men’s basketball games this season.
After a one-year absence, Dave Holmquist has returned as basketball coach. For the Eagles, it has been a happy occasion.
Biola is off to an 8-1 start and can match its victory total of last season when it plays at Cal Baptist Thursday night. The Eagles were 9-21 last season.
But there is nobody happier about the coach’s return than Holmquist.
He said he felt as if something was missing when he sat out last season to concentrate on his full-time position as athletic director.
“I really missed the camaraderie and the involvement of the group,” Holmquist said. “When I went to games last year, I felt that I missed it a lot more than I thought I would.
“When you’re coaching you think it would be nice to enjoy Christmas vacation just like everyone else, but when you’re gone you feel like you miss being there.”
Holmquist said he still enjoys his job as athletic director, but that it does not compare to coaching.
“If I had a choice now between being an athletic director and being a coach, I’d be a coach,” he said. “There are some things about being a coach that you just can’t find anywhere else.”
With the added responsibility of coaching this season, Holmquist said it does not leave him as much free time as he had last year. But he doesn’t seem to mind.
“Coaching takes a lot of time and if you’re going to do a good job, you have to put a lot into it, particularly in terms of teaching and recruiting,” he said. “I felt those were the kinds of things I wanted to do. When it comes down to it, I found that this is what I really wanted to do.”
Holmquist has had nothing but success in his 11 seasons as coach of the Eagles. In his first 10 seasons, his teams won six District 3 titles in the National Assn. of Intercollegiate Athletics, and he has a 283-60 record at Biola.
So, even though Biola had only two starters and three lettermen back from last season’s squad, it is hardly a surprise that the Eagles are winning again.
What is surprising is the manner in which they are winning.
“We’ve had nine games and every one has gone down to the last 30 seconds and we’ve won eight of the nine,” Holmquist said. “I’ve just been very impressed with our poise.”
Biola has three overtime victories, one by 101-96 over Hawaii Loa in double overtime in its last game. That has only served to make Holmquist’s return to coaching more enjoyable.
“It’s really been enjoyable to coach them because they are so confident at the end of games,” he said. “It shows a lot about them as people and about their character.”
The Eagles have been led by juniors Jeff Baker at center, Rodney Camper at forward and Doug Newby at guard.
Biola should improve when it adds junior Emilio Kovacic to its front line for the Grand Canyon tournament starting Dec. 28 in Phoenix. Kovacic, a 6-10 transfer from Arizona State, starred at the club level in Yugoslavia.
“He’s a good player,” Holmquist said. “He’s going to help us get better. Just how much better we don’t know.”
The Eagles still must face the most difficult part of their schedule, when they play six games in nine days from Dec. 28 through Jan. 5. They also will play 8-2 Southern California College Saturday. The coach, however, is not worried about his team growing overconfident.
“There’s no danger of our team becoming overconfident just because we’re 8-1,” he said. “Like I was telling somebody last week, we may be 8-1, but we could just as easily be 1-8.”
The College Division school in the Southland off to the best start in men’s basketball is Claremont-Mudd-Scripps.
The Stags are a school-record 7-0, although the success should not come as a major surprise.
They have all five starters and 12 lettermen back from a squad that went 19-8, finished in a three-way tie for the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference title and reached the NCAA Division III playoffs last season.
Even so, longtime Coach David Wells says he is a little surprised.
“Any time you go 7-0 you have to be surprised,” he said. “Even though we did have a lot of people back, it’s surprising to go 7-0 right out of the blocks.”
Wells, who has a 213-204 record in 17 seasons as coach of the Stags, credits the success partly to the team’s experience last season.
“We had a young team and when you make the playoffs, you’re whetting their appetite and they just want to get back,” Wells said. “Whenever you can get a young team to the playoffs it’s a great experience to have and it’s great to have a chance to get back.”
Wells said the team’s experience and depth has played the biggest role in its early success. The leaders have been center Henry Albrecht, forwards John Gilliland and Dominic Nappi and guard Chris Greene--the team’s top four players last season.
At this point, Wells said his biggest concern is preventing the team from becoming overconfident with a difficult SCIAC schedule still to come.
“What I’m concerned about is that we don’t get complacent and not work hard in practice,” he said.
But Wells was quick to put his remarks in perspective.
“I’m definitely concerned about it but I’d rather be 7-0 than 0-7,” he says. “You want your team to be confident in their play. You don’t want them to become overconfident. It’s a fine line, but so far we’ve been walking it well.”
College Division Notes
Rex Huigens, an assistant football coach at La Verne for 20 years, has been named to replace Roland Ortmayer as head coach. Ortmayer retired after posting a 190-186-6 record in 43 years. Huigens, 45, has been the team’s defensive coordinator the last 10 years.